Nine more stories line up on the docket for this week's video game news roundup. We've got the rundown on Valve's potential Linux plans, an ambiguity-addled tweet from Robert Bowling, Crytek's reputation concerns, the Dodge Viper's glorious return, the fledgling Japanese game industry, EVE Online being boring and proud of it, new games coming to the PC, and Soul Calibur 5's sketchy story scrapping.
Video Game News
1. Valve Wants You... If You're Good with Linux
There's a mountainside bunker somewhere deep in the heart of Appalachia - guarded by attack dogs and balding ex-bodyguards of deposed dictators - where Gabe Newell stashes the billions he's made off of his company, Valve, and its offspring, Steam. Stocked with playable copies of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 and Half-Life 3, it could be your home for the next few years provided you know your way around Linux performance issues.
It turns out that Valve is recruiting for a Linux specialist in order to port Windows games to the open source operating system - a possible sign that Steam could be trailing right behind. PC Gamer has a genuine letter from Newell himself, pleading for the services of the best and brightest:
We are running into a bunch of performance issues in Linux drivers (e.g. 50 millisecond draw calls because the driver is compiling a shader).
We’d like to hire someone to work on these performance issues. If you know of anyone we should be talking to, I’d appreciate getting connected with them.
Gabe NewellValve, Bellevue
Source: PC Gamer
2. Robert Bowling Tweets a Mysterious Script. Is it a New Game?
Speaking of deposed dictators... relax, we kid. Wherever your views lie regarding Activision and Infinity Ward's controversial development/pricing/milking strategies for Call of Duty, there's no reason to blame Robert Bowling for doing his now-former job as the game's creative strategist. Another reason to admire him: it turns out he's no neophyte when it comes to teasing cryptic messages.
Take a look at this cleverly angled script pic he tweeted just days after an unseemly departure from Activision and Infinity Ward. Is it the script for a new game (it sounds an awful lot Alan Wake)? Maybe he's teaming up with ex-Infinity Ward employee support group Respawn Entertainment for a new project? The suspense is riveting.
3. Crytek Looking To Move Away From Sci-Fi Shooters
For the Crysis developer Crytek, though, being "that sci-fi shooter" company is a stigma they'd rather avoid. That's what they told CVG when broached on the topic of their first iOS foray, Fibble, which is out now. The physics-based puzzler lets players control a globular extraterrestrial through modern suburban home to rescue his species brethren. Sci-fi? Maybe. Shooter? Anything but. And it's the first step the developer's experimental future that includes the Kinect sword fighter Ryse and Korean invasion sequel Homefront 2.
4. 'Forza Motorsport 4' DLC Introduces the 2013 Viper SRT
Since its genesis in 1992, the Dodge Viper has appeared in TV shows, movies, music videos, and just about every production racing video game under the sun - several models already exist in Forza Mortorsport 4.
But in case you haven't heard, punk, it's the second half in America. This means two things: 1) Detroit is churning out a new Viper SRT this year and it's one curvaceous badass, and 2) driving it in Forza 4 will run you extra Microsoft Points as paid-for DLC. Sure, if you feel lucky (Do you?), you can eschew increased performance for your "reliable" 2003 model. Just be sure to clear space in your silver medal chest when the content pack releases this summer.
5. 'Silent Hill' Composer Thinks Japanese Game Industry is "Struggling"
The woes of the Japanese game industry have been documented in earnest through the passing assessments of insiders, developers and executives. Flagship Japanese developer Square Enix has been vocal about the lack of attention the world gives to Games of the Rising Sun, and former Capcom production head Keiji Inafune thinks that a lack of creativity has put the market on its death bed.
"I think it's true that the Japanese industry is struggling a bit. Maybe we reached the maximum that we could achieve, and we have to admit it. I think that those Japanese people who do not understand cultures overseas will not be able to create entertainment for the global market.
"Creating videogames is a service. If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."
Global success has certainly been a problem for Japanese entertainment. Pokemon proved it was possible, but it also proved to be somewhat of an outlier. We just wish it wouldn't have to be a tooth-and-nail fight to get many Japanese games on Western shelves (see: The Last Story). Then, perhaps, Japan can turn start turning things around.
6. 'Cave Story' Developer Calls out Hideo Kojima and Komani
Need another example for how the state of Japan’s gaming union is ripe for debate? A developer of Nicalis' Cave Story, Tyrone Rodriguez, elicited his fair share of controversy this week after he lambasted Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojma and series publisher Konami. Rodriguez posited to Indie Games that "cultural differences" are to blame for sub-par Japanese takes on the FPS and shooter genres - and that Kojima and Konami are shining examples:
"Konami doesn't make good stuff. [Kojima is] terrible at making games. Metal Gear is good in spite of him. I haven't enjoyed a game of his since maybe the original Metal Gear Solid... maybe."
According to Indie Games, Rodriguez finds recent Metal Gear titles to be brimming with poor writing, storytelling, and control - peculiar qualities for games that are perennial best-sellers and critical charmers.
Source: Indie Games
7. EVE Online is Fun Because... it's Boring?
Just as every yin needs a yang, every breakneck game needs a love-tapping breather. But is there pleasure to be found in the truly mundane or downright dull? We recently saw how the creative director of Assassin’s Creed III disredgards “boring” settings (even if others find them fascinating); EVE Online lead game designer, Kristoffer Touborg, however, thinks that gamers appreciate a good old-fashioned snooze — it might even be medicinal.
Here’s his explanation to PC Gamer for why mining is such a hit in the EVE Online universe:
Part of it, I think, is that people like boring. Or, well, maybe low effort, maybe low risk stuff. I used to do some of the really boring stuff just because you know that at the end of the road there’s some reward.
Not everything has to be twitch action-based, super-intense, in-the-zone, adrenaline rush 24/7. Everybody complains about mining, but I think it’s the finest hangover feature you could ever do. I’d just switch the miner on, I’d watch sports on Sunday and be hungover and eat pizza. I think that’s great.
Unfortunately, this won’t be stymieing the first-person shooter plans of the upcoming DUST 514. But, with its inherent integration to the larger EVE universe, fans will never be too far away from Touborg’s Sunday pastime.
Source: PC Gamer
8. 'Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP' is Headed to PC
Point-and-touch, point-and-click - Superbrothers is hoping you can't tell the difference when they bring last year's mobile hit, Sword and Sworcery EP, to the PC and Mac this spring (a Steam release date has been confirmed as April 14). The fashionably capricious tale of romance and medieval mysticism was a hit with the critics and audiences upon its release (and a Canadian Video Game Awards nominee for game of the year). But since then, the only news surrounding the project was the release of its LP soundtrack by Guelphian indie rocker Jim Guthrie. Superbrothers' announcement wasn't ready to reveal anything specific on the upcoming game, with the exception that it's meant as a "faithful representation of the original S:S&S EP experience." We'll take it on good faith that a mouse is also mandatory.
9. 'Soul Calibur 5's' Campaign was Cut to 1/4 its Original Size
Our review for SoulCalibur 5 awarded the game with a respectable 3.5 stars out of 5, but it likely would have cracked 4 status if Namco Bandai had invested more resources into the abbreviated campaign. As our Riley Little noted, the story only scratched the surface of Petroklos and his sister Pyrrha while heroes like Ezio were cast as trivial side characters - as if they were only present for kicks and marketing posters.
Well, what do you know - SC 5 director Daishi Odashima gave an interview to the folks at Train2Game and admitted that, in fact, only a fraction of the entire narrative was integrated into the final game:
"Our first plan on the storyboard was that we had every characters' story, and actually we do have it in the studio, but time-wise, man power-wise we weren't able to do it and only one fourth of what we planned to do is in the game."
Perhaps it was this massive lot-to-be-desired that lead us to conjure up a list of the top 5 guest characters needed in Soul Calibur 6 so quickly. Let's just hope we know how they got there next time.
Video Game Reviews
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- Kinect Sports: Season Two Basketball Challenge Pack
- Uncharted: Golden Abyss
- South Park: Tenorman's Revenge
- Diabolical Pitch
- Rayman 3 HD
- Blades of Time
Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.